How to Heal a Sick Chicken in a Laundry Room Infirmary

After a week or more of sub-zero temperatures I noticed about three days ago that Crystal, one of our Rhode Island Red chickens was not acting like herself.

In kennel US

Crystal spent a few days in the chicken infirmary in our laundry room.

She held back from eating when her sisters were mowing down my special “High Test Cold Weather Feed” (recipe below) both morning and night. Then I noticed that she was wheezing and keeping herself separate from the others hanging our under the chicken coop and dosing off. I knew then we had a problem.

As the lowest chicken in the four chicken Rhodie flock, Crystal has always been a bit of a loner, happy to free range off on her own. She has never cared to be caught, held or physically put back into the run after a free range time. She was always the last girl in the coop at bedtime.  A most independent chicken!

Gene and I jumped into motion…Out came the dog kennel, the baby gate, the chicken waterer and jar lids as feeders. I also moved the humidifier from the kitchen counter to the laundry room to increase the humidity in her body. This healing technique actually reminds me of the way I use to treat my young son’s croup – healing foods, rest and high humidity.

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Boy would I like to crawl into that supersized nest box!

We have used the laundry room/mechanical room as an infirmary before and it works well because it is right off of our kitchen, is warm and I can keep close tabs on whoever is not feel well. We have water in the sink and the chicken food cupboard is there as well.

I filled the kennel with dry leaves while Gene brought Crystal inside. The first thing I did was look her over closely, feel her crop to make sure it was not hard, make sure she did not have any lice or mites on her and determine that this was indeed an upper repertory issue. Crystal was sneezing, couching, congested and shaking her head.

Otside of pen USE

After a couple of days of healing Crystal asked to come out of the dog kennel.

I gave her a bit of tincture of Echinacea by gently forcing her beak open and using an eye dropper I dropped a small dose of the tincture into her mouth. We then put her into the kennel and set up her food and water. I kept a close watch on her on and off most of the day. She was eating enormous amounts of food, water and pooping – all good signs. So I pretty much knew that means she was not getting enough food out in the coop as she was beginning to feel more and more ill.

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On the road to healing…”Hey whose out there?”

On day one I gave her three servings of high protein cat food shreds which she devoured. She normally does not get cat food but I needed to fill her up quickly with a high protein food and boost her immune system in order for her to heal.

She was sneezing quite frequently and shaking her head to try to clear things out. Her voice sounded very croupy and horse so an upper repertory issue was confirmed. I kept her full of food, water and on day two switched to Elderberry Elixir made by herbalist Lisa Rose, of Burdock and Rose Herbals that is filled with many good herbs and organic plants. I could see her beginning to get better a little bit each day and she began to make a few soft and happy chicken “talking” sounds.

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Curious Crystal loved walking around the laundry room, exploring.

In case you are not familiar with the healing properties of elderberry Lisa Rose writes this…

“Plant medicines like elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can help shorten the lifespan of a virus — If you know when and how to use them! If you listen to your body’s call, and try preparations of elderberry elixir within the first 48 hours of the start of a virus, medical research shows that symptoms that come from colds and flu can be lessened by as much as 4 days.

How does elderberry work?

Elderberry is not only filled with antioxidants and flavonoids useful for the body, but it stimulates the body’s inflammation response against the virus. By triggering the production of cytokines – the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory agents that regulate the body’s immune system – elderberry powers the immune system which then inhibits the virus’ ability to reproduce.

Elderberry is most commonly prepared as a syrup of the fresh or dry berries and it’s easy to make your own batch of Elderberry Elixir.” Thank you Lisa Rose for this great information!

Each night Crystal climbs up on her roost bar to go to bed for the night. Content to wait until morning when she jumped down and signaled me with little chirps and that she was ready for her breakfast.

On day three she made signs of wanting to get out of the kennel so I let her out for a half hour or so. She walked around, looking the room over and actually came out for a small cuddle letting me touch her which is quite unusual for her self-contained nature.

Today she got a real good shot of Elderberry Elixir, her sprouted mung beans and barley grass in addition to her chicken food and mealworms which she devoured.  This elderberry makes me a tiny bit sleepy so I was not surprised to find her laying down in the leaves and resting later on this morning. She rested for perhaps an hour and was then backup and scratching for more food in the bottom of her kennel.

I think this poor girl was very, very hungry by the amount of food she has put down in the last three days. I have given her as much to eat as she as she wanted because my goal is to give her protein to help her recover as quickly as possible.

Crystal has not been in the house since she was a tiny, day-old chick and she surprised me at how calm she was throughout. Maybe one more day in the house and then we will put her back out on the roost at night to lessen the possibilities of re-entry pecking from the flock. Good job Crystal!!

MY HOMEMADE WINTER HIGH TEST FEED:

For eight chickens I mix the dry portion of the feed into a quart Ball jar. If you have more chickens than I do you may wish to double this recipe and mix this in a bucket or bin.

THE DRY PORTION:

1/3 jar organic layers pellets

1/3 jar black oiled sunflowers seeds (BOSS)

¼ cup rolled oatmeal (or soaked meal worms)

½ to 3/4 cup of sprouted mung beans

THE OLIVE OIL WET INFUSION:

Fill another quart canning jar about ½ full of olive oil. (I buy organic olive oil from Sam’s Club.) This infusion steeps continuously inside the cupboard and is refilled as needed.

Add dried basil and oregano or basil, mint and sage

Add three cloves of fresh chopped garlic

I taught my chicks to eat fresh herbs as babies every day. As a result my chickens love their herbs so I add these liberally, fresh in season and dry in the wintertime. Add to taste,  probably ½ to ¾ cup of herbs to a small bucket of feed.

Each evening I mix up two jars, one for the morning feed and one for the evening feed. I pour just enough of the olive oil mixture to coat the dry materials. Stir. This sits over night to continues to soak into the dry ingredients.

My chickens get their coop lights turned on around 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. when our Lab Sassy has to go out to the bathroom. They then have from that early hour to daylight to eat their layers pellets and drink water. Around 8 a.m. we take out the “High Test Feed.” We then let them out of their two coops and into their covered runs, feed them, clean out the heated dog waterers and refill with fresh water and clean out the chicken coop for the day. Light go off after that so they have dark and quite for egg laying. At night the procedure is repeated.

Always an adventure when keeping chickens!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

September Project List Begun-Countdown to Winter

My head cold is a little better today. I definitely feel that the fresh Elderberry tincture made by Burdock and Rose that I bought last weekend has truly made all the difference in the quick healing time for me. If you want to know more details about the fresh herbal wares and the books of herbalist Lisa Rose, please visit her blog and site burdockandrose.com.

Ladder oaganol going on USE

Fall is a very busy “shut down” time on our homestead. All of the garden perennial get cut back and composted, the vegetable garden gets cleaned out and put to bed for the 2015 season. I also store our various outdoor decorations, vignettes and furniture. Our hoses are drained and stored in the pool shack, our water containment totes are emptied and dismantled and the pump house is winterized and so on; you get the picture. And this does not take the chickens many needs into consideration!!

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So I have to be very organized and through the years I have developed a month to month system I keep in the computer, print it off and then tick off chores as they get accomplished. I began working on my September project list today.

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I started my morning by turning on the sprinklers. It’s been very dry for the past two months on the homestead, so I am focusing on deep watering the shrubs, evergreen and fruit trees that all need to be moist when the winter snow begins to fall. Then I began cutting back the Brown Eyed Susan’s and throwing those seed plants in our roadside ditch. This way the seeds are available for the birds to eat and have a chance to germinate more flowers for next summer’s color and privacy. I’m not thrilled to have a wide ditch in front of our homestead but after serious groundwater flooding, it is a necessary evil.

Gene FS and beans USE

I also washed our bed quilt, blanket and pillows today and hung them out on the clothesline. Usually I try to air out or wash our pillows during the intense heat of the summer but that chore just got away from this season. But it is supposed to be in the 80’s this week so the sunshine and air should bake away the dust mites and air them out at the same time. The water-bed sheets received a 3 hour, hot water “sanitation” wash today as well. Sleeping with our Labrador Retriever is a sweet thing to do but I am just anal enough to need to sanitize our entire bedding from time to time.

Sheets and pillow all USE

I also picked the garden grape tomatoes and green beans and used some of those beans for our dinner today and we froze the rest of them.

Beans in strainer USE

Gene’s chores included hanging up the extension ladder on the side of the pole barn, hooked up the shop light in both chicken coops,  our freshly picked green beans, grilled the chicken for our main meal today and took Sassy for a good long swim.

This afternoon Gene and I started to inventory and boxing up all the decorative accents I had previously used as vintage decorations on our three season porch. Out goes the chicken egg baskets, the scales, the grain scoop, the crocks and much more as I have decided that not only do I want a cleaner and more tailored look on our porch I’m just plain tired of dusting, cleaning and maintenance.

Gene inventory stuff USE

We plan to have an auction sale next summer so these items will go in that sale. We agreed to use this auction money for a special trip for our 25th anniversary that occurs in 6 years. No decisions have been made at where we are going but I am hoping for something very special, like perhaps a cruise. Being divorced and starting over from the bottom up at age 50 and 55, we have never had the opportunity for a really nice (non-camping) vacation.

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It was a small chores/bits and pieces kind of day today but I absolutely love ticking things off of my To Do list and today I did that a lot.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

Adventures in Holistic Chick Raising-Adding Greens

DAY THREE – Highlight of the Day:

1) Today the chicks began to scratch and peck in their brooder. I found out they also like to sleep under the paper towels…whew…for a minute thought I lost one!

2) Sassy responds to the chicks peeps. They peep and she comes running to see what is the matter. That is the cutest mothering thing she has ever done!

3) Today Report: Poop. Sleep. Eat. Poop.

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If you’ve been following our blog you have read about the new chicks on our homestead. If you have ever had chicks you know just how they consume your time and energy. In fact, they have seemed to take over my life right now!

Chicken adventures day one and two can be seen here…https://smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2046&action=edit

The RIR chicks spent a lot of time napping and resting today in their brooder box. Once or twice they all began to peep loudly so of course I drop everything go and check on them. Nothing looks off, but their water seems very warm to me so I change it out for the Susan Burek cooled garlic and honey water. They sip it and that seems to be just what they need. The peeping stopped  and peace again reigns in our household.

Based on herbalist Susan Burek’s recommendation I am feeding our new chicks chickweed, dandelion and a few other greens today as well as the fresh minced garlic. It’s only day three and the chicks are already pecking, beginning to scratch and eating greens. This quite blows me away!

I made a Burek tea of garlic and honey and put it in one of the chick waterers. The second waterer has a steeped green tea made from various organic greens like dandelion greens and chickweed.

Chicks Fresh Greens Tea:

Gather dandelion greens, chickweed, comfrey, and wheatgrass greens and place in a quart canning jar.

Boil water and pout over greens. Let cool. Pour into glass chick waterer.

My goal is to acclimate them to the taste of the garlic from day one and for them to get all the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the raw honey and garlic as well. I used raw honey from our local beekeeper and added some chopped organic steeped garlic I bought at the store. I put that in their waterer today. She does this for at least three weeks.

Chicks Raw Garlic and Raw Honey Tea

Smash and mince four cloves of fresh garlic

Fill a quart canning jar with water and boil the water

Add garlic and steep until the water is cooled

Pour into chick waterer

I will continue this tea for at least three weeks. The greens, garlic and raw honey are all immune system boosters.

Morning and night I clean out the brooder box, putting down fresh paper towels. I always add chopped fresh greens and chopped garlic.  I can’t say for sure if they ate any significant amount if either but they are very interested in it. They peck at everything in general and  worked the greens around. I did see a piece of green grass sticking out of a chicks moth when they came to drink. If nothing else they are getting used to the smell, texture and taste. I call this a good first step to eating holistic herbs and live greens.

They are already growing too. They stretch their necks up tall and practice lifting and flapping their wings. They run from one side of the brooder to the other. Their growth is evidenced in their pronounced pin feathers.

I used raw honey from our local beekeeper and added some chopped organic steeped garlic I bought at the store. I put that in their waterer today. She does this for at least three weeks.

I also tried handling the chicks throughout the day too. They are a little skittish right now, and peep and squirm, but I have no doubt that continued handling will help to tame them.

I did some more introductions of the chicks to Sassy too.  I sat on the floor of the laundry room with a chick in my hands. Sassy hears them cheap but can’t quite figure out where they are located.  She thinks they are in the base of the brooder stand and looks for them there. When I hold one in my hand, stroking it, she sits in front of me and watches what I am doing. A couple of times she tried to nose or lick the bird and I quietly said, “Gentle.” I am hoping she gets the idea of what I want. Once she mouthed it but moved back at my command.

Please know that I am not taking credit for these holistic chicken management techniques, this is a Susan Burke developed system. I totally trust her judgment and experience and I am just following her suggestions.

I am getting up twice a night to change out water and give me chick starter feed.

Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna